The Underwood Park CrossFit Story

Michael Plank and Lauren Grogan owners of Underwood Park CrossFit
Our founders

Michael Plank and Lauren Grogan

We got into this business because we love CrossFit and wanted to use community to help people become their best selves in body, mind, and spirit. Both Michael and Lauren have worked a lot with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (Michael as an ordained minister and Lauren with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance). Our work in the church taught us how community brings out the best people. That’s what we strive for with our work in the gym. From our fitness sessions to our nutrition coaching to our personal training and community events, we are here because we love and value people and care deeply about you being better tomorrow than you are today. Our mission is to use fitness and nutrition as a platform on which to build a strong community of genuine belonging, where people are welcomed and valued, held accountable with love and care, and thereby see growth in all areas of their lives. Our Core Values are client service, integrity, community, and growth. We pride ourselves on our Client Service. We offer both fitness and nutrition coaching to ensure lasting results and we are constantly building professional partnerships and looking for new ways to help you achieve your goals. Integrity means that doing the right thing is always the right thing. Whether that means how we treat people, where we put our money, or how we relate to our community, we care about maintaining strong moral principles no matter the cost and no matter who is watching. Community means that we care about building a community of mutual respect, meaning and belonging where you have a place that you are welcomed and valued; one that makes your life better. Growth means that we welcome you with open arms just the way you are… but we know you can be more. We are committed to using fitness, nutrition, and community to help you move forward in all areas of your life. Through our Mission and our Core Values, it is our vision that we can measurably improve the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our tri-county area.

Our coaches

Aimee coach at Underwood Park CrossFit


Group Training Personal Training Nutrition Coaching CF-OL1, MS Nutrition and Integrative Health, Healthy Steps Nutrition Coach

My journey with nutrition has been a long and complicated road; a journey that I am sure so many of you are familiar with. I distinctly remember being on my first diet at age 8. Which as you can imagine set me up for a lifetime of struggling with my weight and eating habits. I tried everything from Weight Watchers, to exercising more, to not eating at all (or very little), low carb, low fat, macros; the point is there isn’t much I didn’t try to lose the extra weight. My weight has fluctuated up and down over the years, losing and regaining 100 pounds at one point. It kept me from jobs, from opportunities and experiences because I was always self-conscious of my weight and my abilities.

All of my struggles led me to go back to grad school at the age of 39 to obtain my Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. I had always been interested in nutrition (probably started somewhere around the age of 8 but maybe that’s just a coincidence!) and I knew I needed a different approach to finally “fixing” my weight problem, and I thought “wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to help other people with theirs too, save them from all of the struggles I had been through” (I’m sure you can see where this is going already!). The harsh reality is I still didn’t get it. I was learning all of this science behind healthy nutrition and how to apply it, in theory, to working with real people and how great I was going to make my life and their lives and solve all the world’s problems with good nutrition, but……why wasn’t it working for my body? What was I doing wrong, was my body broken and this was just the best it was ever going to be?

When I started at UPCF my only focus was losing weight and looking good, but somewhere along the way that all changed and I realized what I really was searching for was strength and good health. Things truly changed for me last year when I started working with coach Jess on my nutrition. I can hear it now, **gasp*** “but Aimee you’re a nutritionist?”. Yes, but even coaches need coaches. We all need help holding ourselves accountable and sometimes other people can see the big picture in ways that we can’t because maybe it’s not your nutrition that’s the problem, maybe it’s your recovery, maybe it’s your sleep or your stress. The UPCF nutrition program is designed to set you up for a lifetime of health and strength by focusing on a holistic approach (meaning a whole-person, client-led approach) using habits one at a time and in such a way that they become your lifestyle and not just another diet. I am completely confident in saying that I will never have a weight problem again because-insert game changer lightbullb aha moment here–my weight was never my problem, my attitude about it was. By taking the focus off my weight and putting the focus on my health this journey became a lot easier to navigate.

If you need help with your health journey, reach out, we are here to support you in any way we can.

Kerri coach at Underwood Park CrossFit


Client Success Manager Group Training Personal Training CF-OL1

A little over a year ago I made the decision to walk through the doors of UPCF for my No Sweat Intro. I was never one to truly care about how much exercise I got or what I was eating until I was in my later college years. In high school, I was the girl that quit basketball to join the bowling team (sorry, Mom). Who wouldn’t want to eat cheese fries and play a sport at the same time? Fast forward a few years from there, I got into running because I was inspired by Kik who had just done a half marathon with some of her friends. I was amazed by them, which led me to be able to say I did one too. I’ll never forget when Kik saw me near the finish and rodeup beside me on her bike to help get me across that line with other friends and family waiting for me.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I started weight training. I worked closely with a personal trainer (who I will always credit for showing me what weight training can do for you) and I was in the best shape of my life. But then life threw some curveballs.

In 2020, I moved back to the area after living in Latham for a few years. I’m originally from Fort Edward and had always thought it was so awesome to see UPCF, a thriving business, in my hometown. I knew of some people who had previously been members and of course knew the wonderful Kik (who you all know and love). After failed attempts at workouts from home (during another curveball called Covid) and being tired of the way I was feeling, I knew I needed to do something about it.

I had my No Sweat Intro with Michael in October of 2020. He helped give me an idea of what UPCF was like and he also wanted to know my Why for walking through the doors. I knew right away that this was a place that cared. They care about your goals. They care about your safety. They care if you had a bad day. They care about YOU. I cannot thank the amazing staff enough for what they have taught me. I truly believe my mental health is the strongest it has ever been. The rollercoaster of hating myself once the weekend was over and comparing myself to how I once looked in the past all needed to end.

Are some days harder to motivate myself to workout? You bet. But as soon as I walk through those doors, am I happier? You bet. I am not one to flaunt confidence, but I am definitely more confident and prouder of myself than I have ever been. It’s not the daily battle of what the scale says anymore. It is now shifting to wanting to be able to do “that movement” or “that weight.” I now fully understand that life is always going to get in the way of goals you have, but how you react – creating habits and finding somewhere and something that you love – will make all the difference. I’m so inspired by the other members and the coaches and I truly feel like I have become a better person since joining. And THAT is what keeps me coming back…oh and getting stronger is also freaking cool too.
I’m so excited to be able to do a little more for a place I love. Interacting with you members and coaches are some of the best parts of my day!

Alissa coach at Underwood Park CrossFit


Group Training Underwood Park KidFit CF-L1

I’ve always dabbled with fitness. In high school I was a cheerleader and participated in track & field. I did long jump, shot put, and was a sprinter (Of course I was a sprinter. We all know how much I don’t like running long distances.) In college I had a membership to the campus fitness center and became an AFAA certified Personal Trainer there. I loved training people and working in the gym, but when my career started as a Speech Language Pathologist my fitness journey took a backseat. And by backseat I mean that I didn’t workout for YEARS. When I moved to this area I had a Planet Fitness membership, but the only thing getting any exercise was my bank account when money was taken out monthly. I had ZERO accountability. I had a short stint in another local gym that offers group exercise, but that didn’t last either. #noaccountability

Then one day at a wedding my friend Kelli Evans asked me to join a boot camp class at a CrossFit gym with her. I responded with, “Hell no! I can’t do CrossFit and I don’t want some a-hole yelling in my face to pick up the pace.” I also knew my track record of sticking with fitness related things, and didn’t want to spend the money on something that I “probably wouldn’t continue”. Fast forward a couple of hours and more than a few
beverages, Kelli asked again and I agreed to sign up for boot camp.

Enlistment day came and I was so nervous that I was ready to puke! What had I signed myself up for?! What I didn’t know was that that day would be the start of a new fitness journey. I loved boot camp and the UPCF gym community so much that I signed up for CrossFit classes, and a couple of years later was fortunate enough to participate in ITP (Instructor Training Program) and become a coach at UPCF. I finally found a gym, and a community that truly held me accountable and encouraged me to invest in myself!

Even as a coach I still NEED the accountability. Coaching the 5:15 class on Mondays gets me into the gym to workout at the 4:00 class. I recently signed up for nutrition coaching because even though I eat “fairly healthy”, I needed to know someone would be checking in with me. (*Side note: Through nutrition coaching I found out that my daily caloric intake was too low! Who knew?! It has been eye opening, super helpful, and I have added some delicious recipes to my weekly meals!)

My fitness journey has had many hills, valleys, and plateaus and has not always been perfect. Honestly, it still isn’t perfect. I don’t get to the gym as often as I would like and I am nowhere close to where I want to be physically and mentally when it comes to my fitness. There have been physical limitations and setbacks that I am battling which are extremely frustrating, but I need to keep in mind the forward moving trajectory of my journey even if it’s not moving as fast as I would like. At age 42 I am stronger than I have ever been in my life, and can do things that I could not do years ago (I still don’t enjoy running though)! I’d like to think that my fitness journey has no destination in sight because as I gain skills and grow, my journey will evolve and that destination will be continually moving.

I want to end with thanking Kelli for her persistence and for continually filling my glass the night of that wedding. She is the reason that I am part of this amazing community. And I would like to thank my UPCF family (the other coaches past & present, and the awesome members) for holding me accountable these past 4 + years, and for helping me become a better version of myself.

Kik coach at Underwood Park CrossFit


Underwood Park KidFit Personal Training

A quick google definition search of the word confidence will lead you to the following: the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.

This first definition takes me back to the beginning of my journey with Underwood Park CrossFit. I had just run in a 5k at a local event hosted by the gym. Having had my first daughter 18 months prior, I had gained significant weight during my pregnancy (which was not going away on its own) and struggled with postpartum depression. It felt like a huge win to get back into being active after such a dark time. Some members of the gym who were also running introduced themselves. They spoke so highly of this gym community and I was intrigued to find out more. It was a few months later that I felt that first sense of confidence. My truth was knowing I needed to start taking care of me. I joined the UPCF boot camp program. Having been an athlete throughout my high school career, it was comforting to be in a space that accepted my current abilities, rather than where I had been in the past. There was no pressure to fulfill outlandish goals that weren’t realistic. Instead it was an ease that allowed me to build back into working towards consistent and realistic progress in my fitness journey.

The next definition of confidence lists: the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

After completing my boot camp I decided that this progress I had made needed to continue. I was all in and determined to stay on track. I began my CrossFit membership and have been training for over four years. It is the second bulleted definition of confidence I now felt. I knew I had a place and people I could rely on. This gym has become more than just “getting fit” for me. It is here that I feel a strong sense of community and have found people that truly care about my well being. This gym and the coaches here continue to seek out ways to improve and develop what they are doing for their members. Level Method and UPCF, Version COVID-19 are two prime examples of that, but there are dozens more. They strive to provide the best possible outcomes for their athletes. I have firm trust that our coaches go above and beyond to help all members achieve success: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Now the last definition of confidence…for me and I’m sure many others is the hardest. Confidence in YOU. It’s easy to say that I have confidence in my decision to join Underwood Park CrossFit, and confidence in my gym and coaches. But to say I have it in me is a challenge I have, and one I continuously struggle with. Those that know me at the gym know I have a persona of being funny, loud, outgoing, and sometimes (or maybe lots of times) over the top. These are mechanisms I’ve picked up to mask and hide the deeper issues of depression and anxiety that I have struggled with beginning as an adolescent. While my outside appearance might seem confident, internally it’s a challenge I battle regularly. Taking on this new role of coaching is helping to build that confidence within me, but like all other journeys it’s an ongoing process. There are days I feel on top of the world (Murph 2021 was a good day). But there are also days I wish I was a hermit crab that could hide in my shell forever. Saying these things are hard to admit. It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable. By saying them though, others will relate and see that we are all fighting our own battles everyday. Sometimes just showing up for yourself and each other can make all the difference. And I am confident that if you continue to put in the work you will come out better than you started.

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